Doreen’s Story: I Didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know

This is the story of how I became a passionate facilitator for Suppers and started leading the Suppers Breakfast Challenge.

I went to Suppers thinking I was eating pretty well. I shared at my early meetings that I ate Cheerios and coffee for breakfast. Nobody said a word – we’re not allowed to judge each other at Suppers meetings – but I could just tell some of the other members inwardly had an opinion about my breakfast.

Most people were sharing pretty personal information, so it wasn’t too hard for me to admit that when I get sugar cravings at night I dive into the ice cream. I didn’t make any connection between what I ate for breakfast and how I felt at night. But as I continued to listen, I realized that people can change how they feel the entire rest of the day based on what they eat at the beginning of the day.

I had nothing to lose but these annoying cravings and a few extra pounds around the middle so I decided to eat like they eat. Of course, it started with eating real, fresh food, but everybody has to figure out what’s their personal best way of eating. So I did the breakfast challenge, which involved eating according to the directions at breakfast-time for ten days and observing how I felt.

First I had to learn the vocabulary. Suppers advances a lot of concepts that I had never heard before like I had to learn the difference between a treat and a trigger. I had to understand that any food that triggers unwanted eating is probably inflammatory, or at least it’s not good for my body. I had to embrace the thought of nutritional harm reduction and make the best choices I could make without moving too fast or driving myself absolutely crazy. I also had to cultivate my internal observer and watch my hunger, my responses to hunger, and what I was doing that would make me stay comfortable longer.

Once I figured out which of the breakfasts carried me the longest – clear headed, satisfied and without longing to eat – I started eating more of that kind of food throughout the day. I also slowly eliminated the foods that were a tripwire to craving. And guess what, my palate changed! After a while I didn’t get the ice cream cravings at 10 o’clock at night. My life was no longer built around getting that i.c.

In the fellowship at the table I learned how to make substitutes that were treats but not triggers, I learned new habits and how to stand up for myself when friends and family are not as enthusiastic as I am. I love my husband, but he’s going to have to buy his own junk food. I don’t want to see chips when I open up the cupboard in the kitchen. I need the cupboards in the kitchen to be safe places for me. Plus we have a very nice refrigerator in the garage, he can buy his own junk food and keep it in the garage. So, I learned how to stand up for myself.

There were a few nice surprises, like I can eat some chocolate as long as I have it when I’m out. Out, it’s a treat. Home, it’s a trigger.

I learned I have to be careful at meetings because just talking about favorite foods actually might be a trigger. I learned it’s not always readily obvious to other people that what they’re doing or saying is triggering for me. It’s actually my job as a member to model candor and truthfulness around getting needs met.

Since I got my data, I have a different relationship with my own feelings of being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If I ate junk food that day, I acknowledge that my uncomfortable feelings could be the consequences of going off of the eating plan I intentionally designed for myself.

I got what I wanted: freedom from cravings and weight loss around the middle, that zone that tells us that we’ve got a sick relationship with sugar. I am so passionate about these experiments that I became a Suppers facilitator for the online version of the breakfast challenge. Now it’s my turn to not say a word and allow people to go on their own path of discovery, supported by the warm and loving environment of the Suppers community. 

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